September 9, 2004

Brazil cancels most of the country's debt / Austria finances Dondo council

Brazil has announced that it has decided to write off 314 million US$, representing 95 per cent of the 331 million US$ that Mozambique owes that country. The decision was formalised in one of the various agreements and protocols signed between Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and his Mozambican counterpart, Joaquim Chissano, who has officially visited Brasilia for four days. According to Lula, more than simply relieving Mozambique of this debt, his country wants, through this gesture, to show that it is determined to help other countries, that are poorer and facing greater needs than Brazil. He said that it makes no sense at all that very rich nations - most of whose wealth was accumulated by exploiting other countries' resources - insist on collecting debts that have been proved definitely not payable.
Lula stressed that Brazil is in moral and material debt to Mozambique and to Africa as a whole, because the Brazilian economy was built on the labour of enslaved Africans. He said it was the millions of slaves and the descendants of slaves who contributed to the development of Brazil and other American countries, "while Africa remained stagnant". He reiterated that Brazil will continue its policy of supporting African countries that was launched by his government when it took office two years ago. For his part, Chissano thanked the gesture of the Brazilian government, describing it as further proof that this country is determined to move from promises to actions. He said that writing off the Mozambican debt will allow the two countries to commit more efforts in promoting bilateral cooperation and new socio-economic investments.
In a different context, it has been made known that the Austrian government's development cooperation agency has announced funding of Euro 300.000 for the building of new premises for Dondo City Council, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala. Currently Dondo Council is operating out of two separate buildings, some distance from each other. This awkward solution was improvised in 1998, when Dondo became a local authority and the country's first local elections were held. The Austrian finance is part of a district and municipal development programme under implementation in several provinces. According to some research, the Austrian money is also enough to cover a new conference room in Dondo, to expand the main municipal market, and to build three new public lavatories. Austrian Development Cooperation, which has chosen to put its Mozambique offices in Beira rather than in Maputo, has already financed the construction of a new market, in the Dondo suburb of Macharote, and has provided equipment for the city's municipal library.
Dondo is the second largest city in Sofala, and is located about 30 kilometres west of Beira. In the first experience of elected mayors and municipal assemblies (1998-2003), Dondo was regarded as the best governed of the 33 municipalities in the country. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)


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